Irish citizens in Ukraine told to ‘leave immediately by commercial means’

THE DEPARTMENT OF Foreign Affairs has said that Irish citizens in Ukraine should “leave immediately by commercial means”. 

The updated advice comes as a number of other countries issues similar advice to their citizens amid ongoing tensions at the Russian border.

The UK Foreign Office updated its advice yesterday evening to urge UK nationals to “leave now while commercial means are still available”.

It came after UK prime minister Boris Johnson voiced fears for the security of Europe during a call with Western leaders including US President Joe Biden.

Germany today asked its nationals whose presence in Ukraine was not “imperative” to leave, saying a “military conflict cannot be excluded”

Yesterday evening, a statement issued by the Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said that “ongoing contact” was underway with EU partners and officials have now said Irish citizens should leave the country. 

“Following intensive consultations overnight and this morning with EU partners in Kyiv and Brussels, and with other partners, the Department of Foreign Affairs has upgraded travel advice for Ukraine. We advise against all travel to Ukraine and ask citizens currently in Ukraine to leave immediately by commercial means,” the DFA said in a statement this afternoon.

The DFA added that the Embassy of Ireland in Kyiv would remain open “with a small number of essential staff remaining”. Officials said this position was “in common” with other partner states but would be “kept under review”. 

The DFA added: “The Department has been in direct contact with all of those scheduled to travel to Ukraine for surrogacy purposes in recent days.”

Russia also said it was also starting to pull some embassy staff out of Ukraine, citing fears of “possible provocations from the Kyiv regime”. 

US assessment

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan earlier said an attack before the end of the Winter Olympics on 20 February was a “credible prospect”, assigning it a “very, very distinct possibility”.

He said new Russian forces were arriving at the border and are in a position to “mount a major military operation in Ukraine any day now”, which could include a “rapid assault on the city of Kyiv” or on other parts of the country.

Speaking from the White House, Sullivan said Russia could choose “in very short order to commence a major military action against Ukraine”, but stressed the US does not know whether Putin has made a final decision.

Sullivan said the “threat is now immediate enough” to urge Americans to leave Ukraine “as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours”.

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